Hartford Chiefs

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Hartford Chiefs
19381952
Hartford, Connecticut
Class-level
Previous A (1938–1952)
Minor league affiliations
League Eastern League (1938–1952)
Major league affiliations
Previous Boston Bees/Braves (1938–1952)
Team data
Previous names
  • Chiefs (1946–1952)
  • Bees (1939–1943; 1945)
  • Laurels (1938; 1944)[1]
Previous parks
Bulkeley Stadium

The Hartford Chiefs was the final name of the American minor league baseball franchise representing Hartford, Connecticut, that played in the Eastern League (then Class A) between 1938 and 1952.

The Hartford team, which played at Bulkeley Stadium, was known as the Bees from 1939–1943 and in 1945; it was called the Laurels in 1938 and 1944[1] (although Baseball America's Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball calls the 1938 team the "Bees");[2] and then renamed the "Chiefs" for the final seven years of its existence, 1946–1952. It was affiliated for all 15 of its seasons with the Boston Braves, and the Bees/Chiefs nickname switch for the Hartford club is probably a result of the parent team's temporary and unsuccessful rechristening as the Boston Bees from 1936–1940.

Long baseball tradition[edit]

The Connecticut capital had been in organized baseball since the Hartford Dark Blues were a charter member of the National League in 18761877. After those two years in Major League Baseball, Hartford was represented in eleven different minor leagues — including three earlier versions of the "Eastern League."[3] When the Class B Northeastern League folded after the 1934 season during the depths of the Great Depression, Hartford was without professional baseball for three seasons. Then it joined the Class A New York-Pennsylvania League of 1923–1937. The arrival of franchises in Hartford and Trenton, New Jersey, caused the NYPL to change its identity to the Eastern League for 1938, with 2012 marking the 75th consecutive season the league has used the name.

Affiliate of Boston's NL franchise[edit]

The 1938 Laurels made the Eastern League playoffs and Hartford qualified for the postseason nine times in its 15-year history (including 1943–1946 in succession), but the franchise never captured the league's playoff title. While the 1942 team included a future Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Warren Spahn, the Boston Bees/Braves of the era did not have an extensive player development system. Class A was prior to 1963 a mid- to higher-level circuit, and the Hartford franchise was the Braves' most advanced minor league affiliate through 1945. In 1946, however, the Braves began to build up their farm system, adding Triple-A and Double-A affiliates and expanding their presence in Classes B, C and D. They also worked with a second Class A farm club, the Denver Bears of the Western League, from 1949–1951.

But after winning the 1948 National League pennant, the big-league Braves experienced a dramatic fall-off in attendance, and played their last season in Boston in 1952. The Hartford Chiefs did not survive them; the franchise was transferred to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, as an unaffiliated team for 1953. Meanwhile, the MLB Braves moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during spring training of 1953. They had two Class A affiliates that season: the Lincoln Chiefs of the Western League—inheritors of the Hartford team's nickname—and the Jacksonville Braves of the Sally League, whose star player in 1953 would be 19-year-old Henry Aaron.

Notable alumni[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Baseball Reference
  2. ^ Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, eds., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 3rd edition. Durham, NC: Baseball America, 2007, p. 357
  3. ^ Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, eds., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 3rd edition. Durham, NC: Baseball America, 2007, p. 62

External links[edit]